To talk about Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy is to admit to not being that cool. First off, I didn’t hear about the guy until he made multiple appearances on Vampire Weekend’s Father of The Bride, offering some vibrant guitar and vocal textures to “Sunflower” and “Flower Moon”. Though in my defense, I had given a few spins to his band The Internet’s 2018 album Hive Mind prior to FOTB coming out, even if it took me a little while to put these two things together. Also, while Lacy’s breakout single “Bad Habit” became one of the more beloved singles of the year and a sensation on TikTok (now one of our most reliable incubators of pop hits), I hadn’t really heard this song until the end of the year (because I’m old), not to mention the album it sits as the centerpiece of. Continue reading
There is a particular type of album that I fell really hard for in 2021 and couldn’t help but be reminded of after hearing Beth Orton’s Weather Alive. The albums I’m thinking of are The Weather Station’s Ignorance and Cassandra Jenkins’s An Overview On Phenomenal Nature, which both made it into my Top 5 Albums last year. They both featured an airy jazziness combined with breezy folk-pop introspection that were great places to kinda just hide in for a half hour or so at a time, as they offered some quietly soothing respite from the chaos that seemed to just be piling up the last couple years. Continue reading
Even though it’s unlikely that any of them will crack my Top Ten Albums list this year, 2022 was a pretty solid year for millennial legacy acts. You had above-average releases from the likes of Spoon, Arcade Fire, Death Cab For Cutie, Animal Collective, and Phoenix, perhaps rejuvenated by a second lease on their bands’ lives following the pandemic forcing a break from the typical writing, recording, and touring that accompanies an album release cycle. Though out of all these albums, the most anticipated was almost certainly the long-awaited return of one of the guiding lights of NYC’s ’00s rock revival, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Continue reading
It’s been over three years since Weyes Blood released Titanic Rising, but for me, it never really left. It was a great album to put on throughout the pandemic, what with its gently comforting symphonic pop textures as well as its tendency to mix bedroom reflection with big ideas about man-made catastrophe. Of course, the impending doom that singer-songwriter Natalie Mering was hinting at on Titanic Rising had more to do with climate change than with that pandemic that we didn’t see coming in mid-2019. Still, these two avoidable tragedies have carried the same overwhelming despair with them, so the album continued to feel appropriate to listen to during these strange few years. Continue reading
Ah, the joys of writing a less-than-effusive Taylor Swift review that won’t get enough clicks for the Swiftie horde to come after me.
Which… now has me thinking that this may be connected to the fact that the initial reviews of Midnights were a tad bit more glowing than I think it deserved. Either way, I take some relief in being able to review this album a bit removed from its much-hyped release and take it a bit more for what it is, which is a perfectly solid Taylor Swift album, but not quite the “instant classic” that Rolling Stone declared it. Continue reading
I talked about Alvvays’s Blue Rev on a semi-recent podcast, so I don’t need to go into it too deeply, but it’s worth sparing a few words for since it is undoubtedly one of my favorite albums of the year. This has been a bit of a surprise since I once unfairly wrote Alvvays off as nothing more than another very good mid-’00s indie-pop band during an era when such a thing was starting to feel less and less essential. However, five years and a pandemic later, they’ve dropped this absolute stunner of an album that has all of the things that made this band so likable in the past, and yet there’s a newfound boldness mixed with an open-hearted sincerity that makes the album both affecting and highly listenable at the same time. Continue reading
Speaking of albums that walk (heh) the line between alt-country and indie rock, here’s the debut album from Plains, a collaboration between singer-songwriter Jess Williamson and Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield. I did not go to many live music shows in 2022, but Plains was one of them, despite being a group that has existed for barely a year. This is because there were several instances where I wanted to see Waxahatchee on her oft-delayed tour in support of one of my favorite albums of the past few years, St. Cloud. However, every time she came to town (or even a nearby city like Wilmington) I was somehow in another part of the country. Fortunately, Plains did play a few St. Cloud tracks when I saw them, and even more fortunately, the interplay between these two recently unified collaborators was a delight to witness. Continue reading